Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Crime, Humour, Murder Mystery

Burying Bad News Paula Williams 4* #Review #Much Winchmoor Mysteries @PaulaWilliams44 @darkstrokedark @crookedcatbooks @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources #cozymystery #MurderMystery #VillageLife #Somerset

One severed head, two warring neighbours – and a cold-blooded killer stalks Much Winchmoor. There’s the murder made to look like a tragic accident, and a missing husband. Could he be victim number two?

The tiny Somerset village is fast gaining a reputation as the murder capital of the West Country, and once again, reporter/barmaid/dog walker Kat Latcham finds herself reluctantly dragged into the investigation.

Things are looking bad for Ed Fuller, the husband of one of Kat’s oldest friends. Kat’s convinced he’s innocent – but she’s been wrong before.

Has Kat come across her biggest challenge yet?

Fans of Janet Evanovich could well enjoy this “funky, modern day nosey detective” transported to the English countryside. The third Much Winchmoor mystery is, as always, spiked with humour and sprinkled with a touch of romance.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Much Winchmoor, is a quirky, country village in Somerset. It’s full of eccentric, gossipy characters, and more murders than you would expect in such a sleepy village. This is the third in the series, but there is sufficient narrative on the inhabitants, for it to be enjoyed as a standalone read.

The characters are relatable. The picturesque setting at odds with the heinous crimes. The insights into village life are astute and accurate. The plot has a multitude of suspects and false leads and an intelligent, likeable and an unlikely amateur sleuth. This is a winning mix, for an English murder mystery, and it works well here.

Paula Williams

Paula Williams is living her dream.  She’s written all her life – her earliest efforts involved blackmailing her unfortunate younger brothers into appearing in her various plays and pageants. But it’s only in recent years, when she turned her attention to writing short stories and serials for women’s magazines that she discovered, to her surprise, that people with better judgement than her brothers actually liked what she wrote and were prepared to pay her for it and she has sold over 400 short stories and serials both in the UK and overseas.

Now, she writes every day in a lovely, book-lined study in her home in Somerset, UK, where she lives with her husband and a handsome but not always obedient rescue Dalmatian called Duke.  She still writes for magazines but now writes novels as well.  She is currently writing the Much Winchmoor series of murder mysteries, set in a village not unlike the one she lives in –  although as far as she knows, none of her friends and neighbours have murderous tendencies.

A member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Crime Writers’ Association, her novels often feature  a murder or two, and are always spiked with humour and sprinkled with a touch of romance.

She also writes a monthly column, Ideas Store, for the writers’ magazine, Writers’ Forum.  And she blogs about her books, other people’s books and, quite often, Dalmatians at paulawilliamswriter.wordpress.com. 

She gives talks on writing at writing festivals and to organised groups and has appeared several times of local radio.  In fact, she’ll talk about writing to anyone who’ll stand still long enough to listen.

But, as with all dreams, she worries that one day she’s going to wake up and find she still has to bully her brothers into reading ‘the play what she wrote’.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Excerpt, Extract, Family Drama, Friendship, Humour

How Not To Be A Loser Beth Moran @BethCMoran @BoldwoodBooks #boldwoodbloggers #BoldwoodBlogTour #Extract #AudioExtract #Family #UpLit #Mother #Son#Friendship #Love #Courage #MondayBlogs #MondayThoughts #Humour

AMY PIPER IS A LOSER. SHE’S LOST HER CONFIDENCE, HER MOJO AND HER WAY.

But one thing she has never lost is her total love for her thirteen-year-old son Joey, and for his sake she knows it’s time for a change. But first she has to be brave enough to leave the house…

What she needs are friends and an adventure. And when she joins a running group of women who call themselves The Larks, she finds both. Not to mention their inspiring (and rather handsome) coach, Nathan.

Once upon a time Amy was a winner – at life, at sport and in love. Now, with every ounce of strength she has left, she is determined to reclaim the life she had, for herself and for Joey. And who knows, she might just be a winner again – at life, sport, and love, if she looks in the right places…

Uplifting, funny and unforgettable, Beth Moran returns with a joyous tale of friendship, love and facing your fears.

Amazon UK

How Not To Be A Loser – Beth Moran – Extract

Stop Being a Loser Plan

Day One

It wasn’t intentional. I didn’t get woken up by my phone alarm blaring, spring out of bed and decide today was the day. I didn’t open up Facebook and one of those irritating quotes – embrace the rain if you want to dance under the rainbow – actually inspired someone for the first time ever to change something. After cajoling my son, Joey, out of bed, I didn’t gaze at his beautiful face as he poured a second giant bowl of cereal, raving about the school football match coming up, and in a surge of love and regret suddenly experience the pivotal moment in a decade of non-moments.

In fact, apart from the invitation that arrived in the morning post, most of the day went precisely as expected. Which was, in summary, exactly the same as pretty much every other weekday. I waved Joey off to school, reminding him to hand in the form about the meeting that evening and cleared away the breakfast dishes. I worked at my desk in the kitchen, breaking the monotony of writing about corporate social responsibility policies by swanning off to eat lunch in the living room, because that’s the type of wild and crazy woman I am.

I rescued Joey’s football kit from festering on his bedroom floor and stuck it in the wash, because despite telling myself on a daily basis that it’s time he learnt the hard way, circumstances dictate that I also live with an extra-large pile of parental guilt, so I make life easier for him where I can.

By the time Joey came home at four, I had spoken to no one since he left, unless you count talking to myself. Oh, and to the enormous spider who appeared out of nowhere and started edging across the kitchen while I debated whether to have another chocolate cookie or the bag of seeds I’d bought precisely to avoid eating a whole packet of cookies.

‘I’d get out of here if I were you. While your impressive size might earn you respect in the spider world, my son doesn’t take kindly to home invasions by anything with more legs than him, and he’ll be home any minute. Go on, shoo. Or else I’ll have to squish you.’

Too late. While the spider was weighing up whether to heed my advice, Joey burst through the front door, in his usual whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm.

‘Hey, Mum. I’m starving, are there any of those cookies left?’

I clicked save and pushed my chair back to face him. ‘Hi, Joey, and yes, I had an okay day, thanks. How was yours?’

‘Oh. Sorry, yeah. It was good, actually.’ He paused, mid-search of the snack cupboard, to offer an apologetic smile. ‘We did this experiment in science where we had to heat up this white stuff, and— WHAAAAAAT!?’

In an instant, my strapping thirteen-year-old reverted to a frightened child, leaping up to sit on the worktop, cookie packet hugged protectively to his chest.

‘How long’s that been there?’ he shrieked.

‘Not long.’

‘Why didn’t you tell me the biggest spider in the universe was right behind me?’

It was a pointless question. We had been through this too many times before. Joey knew that the reason I hadn’t told him was because of what would inevitably happen next.

And, in line with the rest of the day’s predictability, it did. After a brief negotiation about Joey’s phobia, the value of the spider’s life and what I was willing and able to do about both these things, given that I didn’t think it was quite worthy of calling either the police or pest control, I ended up scooping the monster arachnid in both hands and facing my own worst nightmare.

‘Ready?’ Joey looked at me with solemn eyes as he gripped the door handle. He tried to keep his voice steady, but the rise and fall of his chest betrayed his terror.

I nodded, aware that my own eyes, while the exact same light brown as my son’s – caramel, his dad used to call them – were darting wildly like two wasps caught in a Coke bottle.

Before I had time to take another wheezing, shallow breath, Joey flung the door open and ducked behind it. I threw myself forwards, crashing against the door frame, eyes now firmly squeezed shut, and flicked my hand outside. A sudden gust of wind sent me reeling back in panic.

‘CLOSE THE DOOR!’ I gasped, clutching at my heart as it careened about my ribcage and stumbling back into the middle of the kitchen.

‘Is it gone? Are you sure it’s gone?’ Joey garbled back.

‘Yes! It’s gone. CLOSE THE DOOR, JOEY, NOW!’

I heard the door slam, took another two calming breaths and forced my eyes to take a peek. ‘Oh, please.’

The spider levelled me an ironic gaze from the welcome mat. It was so humungous I could see the lazy challenge in each of its eight eyes.

‘What? What? What is it? Is it still here?’ Joey spoke from where he’d scrambled behind me.

‘It might be.’

‘WHAT? Where-is-it-what’s-it-doing-is-it-moving-is-it-near-me-how-is-it-still-inside? MUUUUUM!’

‘It may have blown back in and now be sitting on the mat.’

Beth Moran is the author of three previous books, including Making Marion. She regularly features on BBC Radio Nottingham and is a trustee of the national women’s network Free Range Chicks. She lives on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest. Beth’s first novel for Boldwood, Christmas Every Day, was published in September 2019

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Humour, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour, Motivational, Romance

To Lahore With Love – Hina Belitz 5*#Review @Hina_Belitz @headlinepg @annecater #RandomThingsTours #LiteraryFiction #humour #SelfRealisation #Lahore #Life #Family #Food #Cooking #Ancestry #Faith #motivational #recipes

A truly feel-good novel to warm the heart, tickle the taste buds and take you on the journey of a lifetime 

Addy Mayford has always struggled with her identity. Brought up in a household of stories, food and faith by her Irish mother and Pakistani Nana, she feels constantly torn between the two sides of her upbringing. Since the death of her father, she’s found contentment cooking delicious recipes from his home city of Lahore, despite the protestations of her mother that being a chef is no career for a young woman. It’s only with the love of her gorgeous husband, Gabe, that she’s truly found happiness. 

When Addy stumbles across a secret that shatters her entire world, she desperately needs to escape and is drawn to the sights of Lahore and the family she’s never known. Waiting for her there is Addy’s final acceptance of who she is, and a long-buried family secret that will change her life for ever. 

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Headline in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I love to learn, and this story presents plenty of opportunities to explore a different culture. I also love to cook, and as each chapter begins with a recipe, this makes delightful reading for anyone who loves cooking. The power of food and its therapeutic qualities are a theme of this story. Each recipe has a section called, the artistry, which describes what the food achieves, and why. The story follows Addy’s young life, before and after, a traumatic event occurs. She has a multicultural upbringing, all-female, the men in her life distant memories until Gabe.

The trip to Lahore is life-affirming in the company of her only friend Jen, and her beloved Nana. There is so much of interest in this story, written with clever visual imagery that invigorates all the reader’s senses. Addy is lovely, down to earth, with a wicked sense of humour, which balances the story’s poignant moments.

The writing style is eloquent, informed and insightful. A thought-provoking way to taste life, through the power of ancestry, culture and food, as Addy takes a life journey she will never forget.

Hina Belitz

HINA BELITZ is an author and renowned equal rights lawyer. Born in Pakistan to an Indian father and a mother of Iranian, Afghan and Indian descent, Belitz was brought up in Hampshire – a place starkly different to her parent’s home city of Lahore, and where she was the only Asian person in her school. Her debut novel, SET ME FREE, was critically acclaimed and led to her being interviewed by Morgan Freeman and starring in a National Geographic documentary about love. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including the Guardian and the BBC. 

A lot of the narrative in TO LAHORE, WITH LOVE has its roots in Hina’s own life experience.

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Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Humour, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour, Parenting and Famlies

So Lucky Dawn O'Porter 5*#Review @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #dawnoporter #Women #Relationships #Love #Friendship #Life #Parenting #BookReview #BookBloggers

IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .

Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.

AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS? 

Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.

And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Three complex, contemporary female stories are interwoven to produce an insightful,poignant, and often humorous story that delves below the glamorous outer shell shown to the world.

The messy reality of Beth, Lauren and Ruby’s life is sensitively written, the final plot twists make the ending positive and uplifting.

Easy to read but thought-provoking.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Humour, Romance

The School of Starting Over Lisa Swift 5* #Review @LisaSwiftAuthor @HeraBooks @rararesources #BlogTour #BookReview #startingover #School #Teachers #secrets #RuralLife #VillageLife #Family Secrets #Lies #YorkshireMoors #TheSchoolofStartingOver

Nell’s going back to school… but now she’s learning lessons of the heart

Reception class teacher Nell Shackleton has a plan. At least, she had until she arrived at her new home of Humblebee Farm, a dilapidated farmhouse on the Yorkshire moors. But so what if the roof’s full of holes, the back door’s hanging off and there’s a sheep in the front room? Because sometimes a new beginning means starting at the bottom… right?

Xander Scott is one of the youngest headteachers Leyholme Primary School has ever had. But managing over-zealous parents and their semi-feral kids proves a tricky task for shy Xander – as does keeping his mind on the job when his feelings for the new Reception teacher become more than strictly professional…

At 43, Nell’s new friend Stevie Madeleine has given up on love. After losing her wife, Stevie’s decided that her four-year-old daughter Milly and cocker spaniel Red are the only girls she needs in her life. That is, until larger-than-life dog-walker Deb arrives on the scene. But will the secrets of Stevie’s past stop her new romance dead in its tracks?

Meeting Xander and Stevie brings joy back into Nell’s life – but when old secrets start to surface, there may be some hard lessons to learn for them all…

A gorgeously uplifting and hilarious romantic comedy.

Amazon UK Kobo

I received a copy of this book from Hera Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Heartwarming, humorous, immersive and poignant. ‘The School of Starting Over’, evokes so many emotions in the reader, as you discover the secrets hiding within the complex and relatable characters.

A new beginning for Nell in a rundown farmhouse, her heart’s battered and she wants a new start. Reading, the first few chapters I was expecting a lighthearted rom-com, with lots of interactive village gossip. Whilst. this is superficially what this story delivers there is so much more as you read on.

Just, when you are relaxing, and enjoying the happy ever afters you expected, the plot twists into an emotional family drama, which resonates. The story’s main protagonists’ happiness is intricately connected. and like a house of cards. it could disappear without a trace.

Vivid characters, heartrending conflict and an authentic Yorkshire village ethos and setting make this addictive reading.

Lisa Swift

Lisa Swift is a romance author from West Yorkshire in the UK. She is represented by Laura Longrigg at MBA Literary Agents. Her first book is due to be published by Hera Books in August 2019.

As Mary Jayne Baker, Lisa also writes romantic comedies for Aria Fiction.

Lisa is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Humour, Motivational, Parenting and Famlies

When Life Gives You Lemons Fiona Gibson 5*#Review @AvonBooksUK @FionaGibson #BlogTour #BookReview #Relationships #Family #Love #Life #Friendship #Parenting #motivational #Humour #women

Sometimes life can be bittersweet…

Between tending to the whims of her seven-year-old and the demands of her boss, Viv barely gets a moment to herself. It’s not quite the life she wanted, but she hasn’t run screaming for the hills yet.

But then Viv’s husband Andy makes his mid-life crisis her problem. He’s having an affair with his (infuriatingly age-appropriate) colleague, a woman who – unlike Viv – doesn’t put on weight when she so much as glances at a cream cake.

Viv suddenly finds herself single, with zero desire to mingle. Should she be mourning the end of life as she knows it, or could this be the perfect chance to put herself first?

When life gives you lemons, lemonade just won’t cut it. Bring on the gin!

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Viv is a lovely realistic character, so easy to like. When she finds out her husband is having an affair, it forces her to look at her life. Heartbroken, struggling to cope with her understandable anger, her dissatisfaction with life, and the menopause, she turns to her friends. Gradually Viv finds the courage to rediscover, the woman she is, and the life she wants.

Full of authentic family life moments, humour, poignancy and an unexpected dash of romance, this book is an easy, engaging read that makes you alternatively, empathise, and laugh out loud. The characters are vibrant and realistic, and the situations relatable. The well-paced plot keeps you entertained and the ending is hopeful.

Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Friendship, Gothic Fiction, Humour, Mystery

Tuesday Mooney Wore Black Kate Racculia 4* #Review @kateracculia @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam #TuesdayMooney #Ghosts #BookReview #Fantasy #Mystery

You are cordially invited to play a game…

Tuesday Mooney loves a puzzle. So when an eccentric billionaire drops dead, leaving behind a fiendish treasure hunt – open to anyone – to his fortune, Tuesday can’t resist.

Although she works best alone, she soon finds herself partnering up with best friend Dex (money manager by day, karaoke-zealot by night) and the mysterious Nathaniel Arches, eldest son of a wealthy family who held a long-running feud with the dead man.

As the clues are solved, excitement across the city reaches fever pitch – but nothing is as it seems, and the puzzle-within-a-puzzle holds something much darker than a vast fortune at its heart…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK- Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

You’d be forgiven for thinking you were about to read a Gothic horror story when reading the opening chapter of this story. ‘A dying house’, ‘a strange man’, and a ‘dark, menacing ethos’ that grips you as open the door to the house. This story is more than that. Whilst, it is noir, there are ghosts, both spiritual, and those which inhabit your psyche, there is also a strange puzzle to solve, and a quirky heroine whose keen intelligence is the match for any ghost.

Tuesday Mooney is a loner, yet she resonates with those she comes into contact with, whether they be work colleagues, or her few friends. As a lover of the eccentric, she is a hit with me, and I enjoyed the magical, mystery adventure she undertakes with her self-appointed best friend, Dex and Nathaniel, the heir to a vast fortune.

The plot is full of vivid imagery, that brings the mystery hunt to life. The pacing is perfect and the characters authentic and richly described. Boston, the arts and various literary figures feature spectacularly, as you are treated to a spectacle of mystery, horror and dark humour.

Perfect for those who love quirky, surprising, satirical literature.